After weeks of demands and public pressure, Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, finally got an opportunity to speak with President Biden and Vice President Harris.
Per the White House, “The President called Cherelle to reassure her that he is working to secure Brittney’s release as soon as possible, as well as the release of Paul Whelan and other US nationals who are wrongfully detained or held hostage in Russia and around the world. He also read her a draft of the letter the President is sending to Brittney Griner today.”
The Phoenix Mercury center has been wrongfully detained in Russia since Feb. 17. Police say they found vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage. On the first day of Griner’s trial, prosecutors revealed the alleged amounts to be 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams. If she is found guilty of attempted drug smuggling, Griner faces up to 10 years in prison.
“The President offered his support to Cherelle and Brittney’s family, and he committed to ensuring they are provided with all possible assistance while his administration pursues every avenue to bring Brittney home,” the White House said.
On Monday, July 4, the seven-time WNBA All-Star sent a handwritten letter to President Biden stating, “I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home.”
On Wednesday, Cherelle did an interview with Gayle King on CBS Mornings where she expressed her frustration with the government’s response to Brittney’s detainment.
“Initially I was told, we are going to try to reserve, we’re going to try to handle this behind [the] scenes and let’s not raise her value and stay quiet. I did that and respectfully, we’re over 140 days at this point. That does not work,” Cherelle said. “So I will not be quiet anymore. I will find that balance of harm versus help in pushing our government to do everything that’s possible because being quiet, they’re not moving, they’re not doing anything. So my wife is struggling, and we have to help her.”
We’ve heard over and over that the administration is working behind closed doors to secure the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s release. And that may absolutely be true, but what we’re seeing is Brittney alone and vulnerable in a country that’s at war and needs her high-profile status to use as a political pawn.